How can Christian coaching enhance my church planting ministry?

This blog post is contributed by Ted Szymczak. Ted is a SEND missionary who has served in Poland for several terms, and now champions training for church planters within SEND.
Everybody seems to be talking about coaching lately, but what is it and more importantly how useful could it be in my ministry? Keith Webb of Creative Results Management defines coaching as, “An ongoing intentional conversation that empowers a person or group to fully live out God’s calling.” The focus of Christian coaching is on the coachee and helping them hear God’s voice in their lives and follow through in obedience.  

My own coaching journey began when I was coached by a friend and found the process quite helpful in my own life. The ongoing and intentional nature of our coaching relationship was just what I needed to gain clarity and make progress in a key area of my life. As a result, the next time the SEND U edition of the three-day Coaching Workshop was offered, I was one of the first in line to sign up. I too wanted to use coaching skills in my ministry with others.

The training time, led by Ken Guenther and Dave Wood, was very practical and allowed me to immediately practice using the skills learned. I have had a lot of schooling in my day, but this course was one of the most interactive and fun that I can recall. It was a good thing that I took the coaching training because shortly thereafter, one of our home service missionaries asked me to coach him during his home service. That first coaching series was a positive learning time for both myself and the coachee. That was about three years ago and since then I have had multiple coaching series both as coach and as coachee, and I am still learning a lot.

So, how can coaching help your ministry? In all six of the church plants that I have personally been involved with, our greatest prayer need was for qualified local leadership. If local leaders are not identified and discipled, no new churches are planted, period. The updated SEND church planting goal and phases guides, both the Overview and the the complete Road-map bear out the central role of multiplying leaders in planting reproducing churches among the unreached.

The 5th phase of the Church Planting Roadmap
focuses on developing leaders.

Coaching can address this new leader discipling need by focusing on the learning that the Holy Spirit has for the new leader instead of on our teaching them and “imparting our great wisdom” on them. By focusing totally on the learning in the coachee, coaching draws on the most transformative form of adult learning. As adult learners, most of us would agree with Winston Churchill who said, “I am always ready to learn but not always ready to be taught.” My several years of graduate study in the area of Adult Learning bear out this principle. As missionaries and church planters, one of our key roles is to help the people we disciple to hear from the Holy Spirit, gain understanding and follow in obedience. Christian coaching helps us to be a part of precisely this learning process in our future leaders.

If you want to see more leaders equipped in your ministry context, perhaps Christian Coaching can be a part of the answer.

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